History of Sweden: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Angela Burke

Angela has over ten years of teaching experience in Special Education, classroom teaching and GT. She has a master's degree in Special Ed with an emphasis in Gifted.

Sweden has a history of Vikings, kings and queens. In this lesson you will learn interesting facts about the history of Sweden, including what makes it such a unique country.

Festive Sweden

The Maypole has been raised and it's time to dance! The longest day of the year, known as Midsummer in Sweden, has been celebrated for centuries. In America, we call this the first day of summer. In Sweden it is a time filled with large family gatherings and a menu of pickled herring, boiled potatoes and fresh strawberries and cream for dessert. And because Sweden is so close to the North Pole, the sun never completely sets on Midsummer. This traditional festivity is part of Sweden's fascinating history.

Dancing around the Maypole during Midsummer in Sweden

Where Is Sweden?

Sweden is part of the European continent. It is part of Scandinavia, a region in northern Europe consisting of the countries of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland. The Swedish capital city of Stockholm is almost as close to the North Pole as Anchorage, Alaska!

Map of Scandinavia

Stone, Bronze and Iron

Sweden was once covered in ice! When the ice started melting 10,000 years ago, the first people came to live in Sweden. Ancient graves and dwellings have been discovered and traced back to the Stone Age. People hunted, gathered and fished. The Bronze Age brought sophisticated metal artifacts, or objects made by human beings. This was followed by the Iron Age, when people started to farm.

Eventually goods were traded with the Roman Empire. Around 500 AD, a tribe of warriors called Svea became powerful. This is how Sweden got its name. It is the land of the Svea.

The Vikings

Between 800 and 1500 AD, the Svea became known as the Vikings. Did you know that the word Viking means pirate? This makes sense because the Vikings often stole and raided other people's lands. The Vikings traveled far and even traded with the Arab kingdoms.

The Middle Ages

Around the 11th century, the Scandinavian kingdoms of Norway, Sweden and Denmark were separate realms with different languages and separate monarchs. A monarch is a supreme ruler who is usually a queen, king or emperor. But the separation came to an end when Margaret of Denmark, a Danish queen, united the three Scandinavian kingdoms. It was quite uncommon for a woman to rule during this time! The union continued until 1521.

An effigy of Margaret of Denmark from 1423 on her tomb

The Swedish Empire

In the mid-1600s, Sweden became quite powerful in northern Europe. Sweden captured Finland, Denmark, parts of northern Germany and areas of the Baltic Sea. However, Sweden lacked the resources to remain powerful. During the Great Northern War, which lasted from 1700-1721, Sweden lost most of its newly-gained territories.

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